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Delta E BASIC SkyMiles Fares now Nationwide – Should or shouldn’t you book these tickets?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


From Delta.com

This past week Delta announced and rolled out E Basic SkyMiles tickets for more than the limited markets they first used during the introduction of this “enhanced” SkyMiles feature. But is this a good thing or a bad thing as Delta always spins everything they offer as something better for members.

What BASIC means (to me)!

As a bit of a disclaimer I will again state I have only ever once booked a Delta E Basic fare ticket. When I search for any ticket on Delta I choose the drop down option to avoid E Basic fare tickets. I even use this ridiculously long fare class option choice string in itaMatrix searches to choose any revenue fare but an E Basic fare ticket (f bc=a|bc=b|bc=c|bc=d|bc=f|bc=g|bc=h|bc=i|bc=j|bc=k|bc=l|bc=m|bc=n|bc=o|bc=p|bc=q|bc=s|bc=t|bc=u|bc=v|bc=x|bc=y|bc=z). BTW, before someone comments, yes you can use this switch to avoid E Basic fares (f ~bc=e).

…are you sure? Uh – NOPE!

So why avoid them? First off Delta wants you not to book these. In all their Delta $DAL investor reports and calls they brag up how most, once they see all the restrictions (and I am guessing the scary pop-up box), navigate to a higher fare class ticket.

The next mega reason is the complete inflexibility of these fares. As an elite I want to, on revenue tickets, have the option to same day chance or same day standby plus have a shot at an upgrade. All this is out the window with an E Basic fare. Now when it comes to award tickets you have the same restrictions but you lose something even more valuable (maybe the single most valuable perk) that is, the ability to redeposit your SkyMiles and cancel a ticket (free for Platinum and Diamond Medallions). This reason alone kills Basic SkyMiles tickets for me most times. And there is another reason.

NYC-LAX this week.
NYC-LAX next year

Delta, being Delta, jacks up award prices close to the travel date. It was not always this way as “back in the day” this was one of the real values of holding and spending Delta points for a last minute trips or emergencies. But if we look at the above search from New York to Los Angeles for the next few days vs. a year from now we see the clear difference in award pricing. Oh and do notice there are no E Basic fares until you move further out in the schedule. Thus, again, the value of perhaps booking a last minute E Basic SkyMiles award is blocked by Delta.

The other thing I fully expect to see (and we have already seen in certain markets) is that what once was the lowest level award ticket redemption has become the same price for an E Basic award ticket. Expect this to spread as well as getting your hopes up when you see a “SkyMiles Sale” promotion only to see all the good value tickets are E Basic fares.

So is there ever a time to book one of these restricted award tickets? For me the simple answer is almost never. There is just too much pain inflicted when it comes to award tickets when I need flexibility. I guess I could see the wisdom once you have booked some amazing elite mileage run ticket and need to maybe position to a start city and know you will fly it to burn less miles to get to where you need to be.

You tell me. Would you ever, or have you ever, booked a Basic E class award ticket with Delta SkyMiles? – René

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

4 Comments

  1. Frankie Morgan Reply

    I noticed this rollout over the past few days. I do book these E award fares for one way flights only for very short hops (I can survive a lousy seat for flights less than an hour) that are less than 10,000 miles as refunding them for $150 wouldn’t be worth it anyways. And I travel lightly enough that my overnight bag fits under my seat.

  2. Rene,

    Unrelated to this post, but I talked with AMEX and they do NOT plan to renew the personal Delta reserve card promotion that allowed an additional 15,000 MQMs for spending from 60K to 90K. Surprised that they did not make this a permanent feature.

    • @Phil – Thanks. I am shocked they did not as well and bump up fee for card.

  3. I agree with FM, above. Super short flight I know I’m taking, barring total disaster? Maybe. Otherwise, no way. I think those tix are for the poor, like students, who can only fly that way. What I really resent is DL using those prices ($ or Miles) to claim a “sale.” If the only seats available for a price are Basic, I think it’s false advertising and I resent the hell out of it.

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